Monday, February 1, 2016

William H. Drummond writes

The Faerie Queen’s Hair

In the land of the faeries things are not so fair.
The Queen of the Faeries has just lost her hair!
She woke in the morning with a very cold head.
When she looked in her mirror, she crawled under her bed.

Now hair is such fun to brush and to comb,
To twist into braids, to make you look like a gnome.
But for faeries it’s different; there’s magic, you see,
In the locks of the faeries, not like you or like me.

Faerie dust, you all know, has magic to spare,
But I’ll bet you knew little about magical hair.
Nonetheless, it is true, and the magic is strong,
And it gets stronger still as the tresses grow long.

The Queen of the Faeries has the longest of course,
And with magic so strong she was filled with remorse.
She was sad, she was scared, and she cried under there,
For the fate of the world is bound up in her hair.

Sometime late at night someone quietly crept
Into her warm boudoir, where magic scissors are kept.
Went to her bedroom and committed the crime,
Cut off her hair and escaped just in time.

Far away under mountain, under glacier so cold,
Sat a small, wrinkled creature, older than old.
And she smiled as she sat with a glint in her eye,
For she knew that the whole world was now doomed to die.

Long ago she had planned how to steal the hair
Of the beautiful Queen of the Faeries so fair.
She knew of the scissors, she knew when to try,
She knew whom to send, and she did it so sly.

The girl she had fooled, and whose story we tell,
The girl was so sorry, but now we know that well.
She didn’t mean evil, didn’t want to be bad,
But she was just the same, and she later was sad.

The crone with her spells under mountain and ice,
Spied a jealous young girl and said, “Isn’t that nice?
She will help me immensely; she will be just the one
To accomplish my purpose. How perfect, how fun!”

And our little girl, what was her name?
Why was she jealous, and was she to blame?
Her name’s not important, could be Betsy or Sue,
She could be your sister; she could even be you.

But her feelings were real; they twisted her mind,
They made her feel worthless, made her unkind.
Her hair, so she thought, was not pretty or nice,
Her friends all had better, and her sister had twice.

That’s how the crone trapped her, that’s how she was caught,
The crone used her magic to get one she sought.
In dreams the crone taught her; in dreams came the plan,
She dreamed of the faeries and said, “Yes, I can!”

Then sneaking and creeping she left her warm bed,
Through woods and through fields with one thought in her head.
She knew what she wanted, and she knew where it was,
And why did she do it? She said, “Just because.”

The crone’s dreams had told her where Faerie Land lay,
They showed her the scissors, they taught her to say,
“With Faerie Queen hair braided in with my own,
“My hair will be prettier than any I’ve known.”

More quiet than breezes, more silent than air,
The sad little girl cut the Faerie Queen’s hair.
She raced back to her home, with tears in her eyes,
But why was she crying? I’ll bet you know why.

She knew she had done wrong, she knew wrong from right,
She trembled and whimpered and sobbed through the night.
The Faerie Queen’s hair was still clenched in her fist,
But to make everything better was all that she wished.

And the Faerie Queen heard her, and came in a dream,
She told her the tale of the crone’s evil scheme.
Her world was in danger from what she had done,
And no one could save it, well, no one but one.

To save the whole world, to make up for her deed,
She must give up her own hair in the Faerie Queen’s need.
Only hair freely given, only this magic could
Replace that which was stolen, could turn evil to good.

She thought of her sister, and her friends, how they’d laugh!
When they saw her head naked, oh, they’d laugh and they’d laugh!
But she knew she must do it, must endure their scorn,
And she smiled at the Faerie Queen, though she felt so forlorn.

She bowed and she cried as the Faerie Queen cut
Off her hair with the scissors, then she woke, and guess what?
It was morning and sunny; the world was still there.
She had saved all her loved ones by giving up all her hair.

She didn’t feel sorry; she didn’t feel sad,
She didn’t feel jealous, in fact she felt glad!
Then she ran to the mirror, and guess what she saw?
Her hair was still with her, waves, curls, and all!

She must have been dreaming; it all wasn’t real,
Then she looked in her hand, and boy, did she squeal!
Wrapped round her small fingers, something so rare,
A lock of the Faerie Queen’s bright golden hair.


  1. After the Milesians defeated the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Tuatha decided to leave, but a group led by Finvarra (Finn Bheara, Finbeara, Fionnbharr) chose to remain in Ireland; these were the Daoine Sidhe. Finvarra negotiated a truce where they were allowed to remain in Ireland as long as they remained underground; they lived among the trees underground and built great cities. A magical spirit race, who affected the affairs of men above ground, they eventually became known as the fairy (or faerie) folk. In some legends, he was also the King of the Dead, but nonetheless he was a benevolent figure who ensured good harvests, strong horses, and great riches to those who assisted him. His wife, the Faerie Queen, was Oonagh (Oona, Úna, Uonaidh); her name may be derived from the Gaelic word "uan" (lamb). She was a faithful wife and the most beautiful of all Goddesses, having silky, golden hair that was so long it swept the ground, and she flew through the earth robed in silver gossamer that appeared to shimmer with diamonds but was actually sparkling dew. She was so beautiful that no mortal could look at her without being awed and amazed. She was a Goddess of love and protectress of young animals, Mistress of Illusion and Glamour. Her blessing was invoked to find true love and to experience romantic happines. They lived on Knockmaa, a hill near Tuam, in County Galway.

  2. "Fairy locks" is a term not associated with the hair of faeries themselves, but rather with children's tangled and knotted hair (or horses' manes), caused by faeries playing in and out of their hair at night. The notion was first expressed in English by Mercutio, in William Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET, who discussed "Queen Mab," another name for the Faerie Queen, a miniature creature ("no bigger than an agate stone") who drove her chariot into the noses and thence into the brains of sleeping people to compel them to experience dreams of wish-fulfillment. Mercutio implied the locks are only unlucky if combed out ("once untangled, much misfortune bodes"). Later, in his KING LEAR tragedy, Shakespeare describes Edgar, impersonating a mad man, by saying "he elfs all his hair in knots."
    The loss of the Faerie Queen's powers as a result of the shearing of her locks seems to be Bill's own invention, perhaps inspired by the Biblical strongman, Samson, who lost his superhuman strength when Delilah cut his hair, violating his Nazirite prohibition against it: "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard... (Leviticus 21:5). Except on one occasion, the "extreme" Nazirite position was opposed by Shimon HaTzaddik (Simon the Just), a famed Jewish high priest in the 3rd century BCE: A young man with flowing hair said that he had been pleased upon seeing his face reflected in a spring and he feared that his beauty might become an idol to him, so he wished to offer up his hair to God; Simon complied. This anecdote is perhaps interesting in light of the qualities associated with the Faerie Queen.

  3. I was thinking about writing a novel with the quest for the Faerie Queen's hair as the backdrop when I wrote this poem. Never got around to it, though...

    Thanks for the lesson, Duane! I've been searching without much success for a good history of the faeries. Suggestions?


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